My debut novel, The Uninvited Corpse, released on March 27th, and to say it was an amazing day would be an understatement. I was excited, eager, curious, apprehensive and happy. It was Christmas morning, the first day of school and graduation all-wrapped up into one. One of my best days ever.
There was a flurry of activity online thanks to reviews that were posted, my friends shared the with their friends, and my publisher did its thing to promote the release. I made sure to take a trip to my local Barnes & Noble to visit my book. A very proud moment when I saw the book on the shelf with all the other cozies. Truly a dream come true moment.
Later in the day flowers came. Two deliveries. Both my critique partner and husband sent flowers to celebrate release day. My husband had my cover framed as a gift.
I gave myself a few days to revel in the excitement and celebrate my achievement before I buckled back down to work. I dove into the third book in the Food Blogger mystery series.
I’ve shared with you the process I went through to write the first draft, and I thought I’d give you a look at my second draft process, which includes a lot of index cards, coffee and a large surface.
I had set aside the first draft for a couple of weeks to put some distance between me and the story, which allowed me to think about the story. Then printed out the full manuscript, grabbed a stack of index cards and filled my coffee cup to the brim. I settled at the dining room table to work.
I also had a sheet of paper on which I had collected new scene ideas or questions that came up during my break from the manuscript. I transferred that information to index cards. One card per scene, idea or thought.
Next up, I read through the entire manuscript and jotted down a one-to-two sentence recap of every scene. When I was done I had about 60 index cards filled out.
This took pretty much an entire day, so I waited until the next day to continue. The next stage was to “lay out the book” and for that—aside from more coffee—I needed the original outline of the manuscript, and the index cards. I used my kitchen island. Having a big island comes in handy at Christmas for cookie baking and for plotting books. I set out each index card and spent as much time as needed to make sure the story flows and the timeline is right. That’s why I have the original outline with me so I can make notes about the new scenes and the original scenes that need to be tweaked.
Once the story order is set, I number each index card, gather them up and take them to a comfortable spot and flip through them one more time.
When I’m satisfied with the flow of the story, I take the cards and the outline back to my desk and begin working on the manuscript.
In the second draft I’ll flesh out the scenes. They’re pretty lean in the first draft phase when I concentrate on the story. I interject material for character, better description and tighter dialogue.
After I revise a chapter, I print it out and read and edit and make changes in the document. Once I’m satisfied, I send the chapter to my critique partner. When the chapter comes back with her comments, I save it and don’t look at it until I’m completed with my second draft and ready for round three.
There you have it, my second draft process. Sometimes it’s messy, sometimes it’s overwhelming, sometimes it’s frustrating, but it’s all worth it to get to a finished book.
What does your revision process look like?